Martha Our Dear

Our puppy of 8 years suddenly passed away in April of this year and my husband and I were just devastated.  We were certainly not expecting our first parenting experiment  to just die out of the blue.  A simple vet visit turned into “he won’t make the night” .  How could this be?  It was needless to say a shock.  I did not expect the loss of  a pet to really affect me as it did.  Honestly it was lonely.  Very lonely.  I have two girls running around my feet constantly, so truly I am never ALONE.   I realized then that a dog does not drain you it fills you.  Their tail wags, down eyes and excitement for the simplest of things makes life enjoyable.   I was missing the knock into the thigh, the steps on the floor and the friend that always will listen.  ( not that I talk to my dog, although I think I might have).


 

New chapter. It has been two weeks and one day since we made the four hour trip to Grand Rapids to pick up our new addition.  After much research and many breeders we finally found the breeder and breed we were both excited about.  We went with a Golden Doodle.  A mixture between a Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle.  She has been interesting to say the least.  Like having an infant child you forget what it is like to have a puppy in the home.  The work involved.  You always realize a puppy takes work, but you truly forget the effort in raising a good dog.  I think most would complain and hate it, but truth is I LOVE it.  I LOVE having the fruits of my labor show so fast.  With children you discipline and change behavior, but the pay off is slow.  Kids require a lot of work and you might get that ” I love you mommy” once in a while, or the cute smile on the stairs.  But bottom line the pay off with kids is not immediate or fast.  You just have the hope that what you are doing will pay off and you will have God fearing, loving, responsible members of society.  We shall see.  But with a dog the pay off is much quicker.  You show her where and when to sit and 3-4 times later she does it.   Show her if she comes to you when called she gets a treat, and after 3-4 times she gets it.  It’s a good feeling.  And right now its working.  God willing it continues and we have a great member of the family.  Soon, we shall see.

 

 

 


 

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Smile or Smirk? OOTRA inspiration.

I read someplace that women of confidence smile and women of arrogance smirk.  How true is this statement?  And more importantly what do you do?


 

 

The steam from my coffee was making it’s way out of the tiny hole on the white crisp lid resembling a steam train.  I had a babysitter for three hours and I was going to use my time wisely.  Walking downtown Naperville with no agenda I landed upon a cute boutique.  The store was laid out with curiosity.   Racks of creams, whites and flows seemed to be placed meticulously thoughout the store.  You could barely get through one rack without being caught by another.  Intriguing, to say the least.  Not really sure how all the garments  fit together I left the store but certain to come back and figure it out. This boutique left me with a puzzled face and the desire to understand.

Fast forward a couple of days.  Girls at home singing and twirling, entertaining my saint of a sitter.  Walking in again with some quiet confidence ready to digest more of what this boutique was serving.   I was approached by three well dressed, confident girls.  These girls were different than other “sales” girls that I have encountered.  What was it though that made them different?  There was not a smirk to be found.  Refreshing.  Some times a smirk has nothing to do with a mouth.  I decided to try on a piece of clothing and to my surprise I liked it.  The garment was nothing short of a piece of mysterious cloth.  A garment that could easily be passed by, had one not been open for change.  The “smirkless”  were encouraging and offering advice with no motive other than to teach a different way to style.  It was evident that this boutique was different.  Their clothing, their attitudes towards clothing and of course their lack of heir was surely NOT suffocating.  I left with three beautiful garments encouraged and  excited  to be a better version of myself.  On departure I was told that I could bring in problem pieces of clothing and they would help style them.  I took the information like you put away for a rainy day.

Wonderfully this week I had another 3 hours to enjoy.  Bought a book,  and slowly made my way through some of downtown Naperville’s other boutiques.  I have to say regrettably,  at most these shop’s were soulless. Beautiful clothing, but something was missing.  What was it?  I was missing the Beam.  The beam of excitement in not just selling a piece but creating a look that contours to a personality. I headed into the Boutique with the  large bright  letters OOTRA.  Understanding the space better and feeling well.  I had decided to bring in a couple of dresses to have styled. Rainy day cashed in.  The owner skipped out in spirit and walked out with class.  You might not have understood her attire but you were ready to confidently be taught.   Her polka dot short dress, short jacket,  crimson scarf and brown boots that had been “lived” in.  Her smile was contagious.  Her excitement for life poured through in her speech and demeanor.  The way her knees would bow when she was speaking about something exciting was endearing.  It was Confidence.  It’s beautiful isn’t it?  On a side note why do so many of us lack this pleasant confidence?  Why do we feel the need to judge one another?  Is it upbringing?  Environment? or more?  Raising two girls I am even more conscience of this debilitating character trait.  Back to the Owner, did I say that she exuded confidence?  Well, if you missed it, she was the type of person you only wished was a thumb up on your hand of “close”  friends.  She was throwing garments at me like you would think Picasso would throw paint.  It was so incredibly enlightening.  It was an experience all to difficult to describe. I was the piece she was working on.   After having two children I have forgotten that feeling of being front and center.  I have forgotten that I was once important too. It was not always about filling the daily list of unending need’s only to do it all again the next day. I had a life once that mainly served me.  It seems a lifetime ago.  I am not interested in going going back to the life of me, but maybe reminiscing more and embracing parts of it.

 

The #OOTRAGirl was inspirational.  She had a lot to say about a lot of things, and yet I did not grow tired of listening.  She brought up things that were more than just “sales”.  I suppose in a way it was all about sales, but I tell you honestly, it never seemed like it.  At one point I was told “let’s go for a walk” .  I was fully decked in OOTRA gear and my reflection that greeted me from one of the store fronts was nothing less than empowering.  The silhouette of a girl that I never thought could be staring back at me.   I was sold. I am still sold.  This women and her team have a gift.  The ability to make someone feel incredible inside and out. Truly a gift.

So I suppose I’ll stop where I started.  Smile or Smirk?   I am Smiling.   If you haven not visited this Boutique, I strongly urge you too.  Get a coffee and go alone.  Be open minded and listen.  It is an experience that is worth it.   http://www.ootra.com/

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Fall and Frank

What is it about Fall that makes you just feel good?  Certainly it must be the crisp air, or the rustling trees ready to bare all.  Or maybe it’s that everything now is advertising pumpkin. That must be it.   If you walk into a Starbucks you know your supposed to be there just by the amazing smells of spice!  Regardless, of what it is, its enjoyable.  This weather is enjoyable.  It makes you want to go for a run and skip to the beat.  I found myself today blaring “the way you look tonight” by Frank Sinatra, windows rolled down completely, coffee in hand and just enjoying LIFE.  No real rush to go anywhere, (other than home to put away all the groceries purchased).  I was actually hoping someone slow would pull out in front of me so the moment could last a bit longer.  No one did.  The moment was fleeting and I was soon home grabbing children and groceries.    12 bag’s on one arm ( yes I counted)  pleading for girls to get out of the way.  Life started back up quickly……But for that small moment today, I was someplace else.  In a world all my own. It felt good.  It made me feel alive and well.   I guess you could say I Frankly love fall.     The Way You Look Tonight

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Creating yourself.

Everyone always says that change is hard.  I have to disagree.   Change is hard when it’s NOT YOU making the change.  Otherwise change is easy.  I have always been  a person that need’s to change things up.  I love to be challenged.  If I am not working on a project or working towards something I get, well, kind of depressed.  At 33 I have realized CHANGE is a NEED.  And once again Change is on it’s way.


When I launched my website and my business I had a certain direction in where I thought I wanted go.  I had a vision of where I would be in 5 years.  I had a vision of how I wanted to be perceived.  And I have come to the conclusion that all the visions I had were not necessarily good ones.  Truth is, I don’t think I have been truthful.  Truthful to who I am as a artist.  And more so, truthful to where I was in life.  


I know plenty of people who are “normal” thinkers.  These people do not have a constant desire to change themselves or surroundings.  They do not have the desire to be challenged to the point of self inflicted stress.  Many are happy and content with who they are and the way their life is.  They are always in a sweet spot of life.  At times I am very envious of these “normal” thinkers because they seem to have such a calm and upbeat way about life.  Then there is me going through life with an artist/perfectionist brain constantly working towards something or changing something.  Usually too much on my plate, and always standing while eating.


So where am I and who am I?  First thing, I am God fearing.  I believe there is a Great God who has a huge plan for all of mankind.  I really do try live my life in accordance to His will and I would love to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  No guarantees.

Second,  I am a wife. I have a great husband who work’s desperately hard to provide for our family.  He’s good at it.  We have been married for 8 years and we are still best friends.  Don’t get me wrong we have our disagreements, our huff’s and our laughs.  But at the end of the day we are “lifers”.  I knew he was the one from the moment I heard his voice and to this day I still am confident in that fact.

Third, I am a mother.  We have two little girls we are raising.  Most day’s I am utterly failing both of them it seems.  But on some day’s it feels great to be parent and see your hard work pay off.  It’s the little things, I know all of  you fellow parent’s know what I am talking about.  All the little things they say that melt your stress away.  I love these girls, and look forward to the day where we all can hop in the car and go get a coffee.  Strange I know, but if you know me you understand coffee is one of my favorite part’s of life.

And lastly, I am a Photographer/Artist.  I enjoy being creative. I need to create!  For those of you who also have a creative brain, you understand the depth of that statement.  The NEED to create.


 

So why share all of this?  What’s the point?  Well, If doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you, so they say.  My plan is to change the direction of my business.  I am thrilled at the new goals set .  I will be discussing this more in a later post.  You might have even noticed some website changes happening.  Exciting times ahead! I am excited for change and excited to becoming a better version of myself._DSC2389 copy

Leave me your thoughts below!


 

 

 

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Insert foot.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say something you regret?  As I get older I find when I say something that is not an edifying comment I cannot stop thinking about it.  Even when explaining yourself and trying to “right” the comment I still dwell on it.  Is this an age thing?  Is this what happens when you get older you obsess about small things? Obsess about comments said?  Is this only me?


 

There are so many times I want to say something but will bite my tongue and I will catch the statement that has a mind of it’s own.  I than will feel proud and in control, I stopped a simple thought that has the power to offend.  But sure enough before I know it there goes a statement that is sure to offend.  How does one stop this?  What is the motive?  I have no idea.  As I sip my morning coffee obsessing over the comment made I have come to the realization that I no longer will speak.  Only listen.   Yeah, wish me luck with that one.


So what do you do when this happens to you?  Please tell me this happens to you too!

Happy Sunday!

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Preschool here we come!

The weeks seem to be going by quickly.  School is restarting and we are quickly gathering everything they need for the packs.  I on the other hand have two girls ages 4 and 2 and only one will be going to preschool this year.   I know some of you might say “count your blessings” or “enjoy it”.   But the truth is I cannot wait to go school shopping for both my  children.  I cannot wait to make it fun for them.  I cannot wait to let my little one pick out new outfits to wear.  And get excited about a new pink binder or cool erasers.

When I was younger, mid August, I would see the first “Back to school” commercial and I would literally get a pit in my stomach.  I then would have the constant dread and worry throughout the remainder of summer of what the school year would bring.  Why?

Having moved around a lot, being the “new kid” was the  norm.  I was always the new kid and it never got easier.  Walking in the first day, not knowing where you are, not knowing anyone and more so than that but feeling inferior.  For me it was about being prepared.  I was never prepared for what the school year would bring.  Not physically with new clothes, new supplies etc nor emotionally.  I had to face it alone and it was scary.  I don’t want my girls to ever feel those feelings.  I don’t want them to ever feel alone at school and more importantly to feel unprepared.

My four year old starts preschool the first week of September.  We have already picked out a day where we will go on a “back to school date” and pick out together everything she will need.  I am excited to be able to provide such small luxuries to her and to know that I am doing all in my power to prevent the hardships I endured in school.

Yes I know, I know that school will bring hardships no matter how prepared you are.  I agree.  No argument there.  But even now don’t you feel better going into something prepared?  Having planned it all in advance?  Had you been told about the hardships you endured in school ahead of time, would you handled them different?  I know I would.  And I hope she will too.

Here’s to supplying  our kid’s physically, mentally and most importantly emotionally of what the school year COULD bring!  I’m excited and I LOVE the new Target “back to school” commercial!6.Preschool here we come!

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Weight Loss Inspiration!

I find it a rarity to meet truly inspiring people.  I meet  generous, uplifting and caring people often.  Inspirational…..no not that much.  Till recently.  I had a session last fall with a woman who recently got a divorce and was looking to get some new “chic” photo’s.  The session was scheduled for a fall day.  The air had a chill to it and the leaves were already mostly fallen.  I met the woman and her friend and started the session.  Truthfully, we had a great time.  She was funny, charming, down to earth and pleasant to work with.  Her friend Stephanie was a little shy but interesting and engaging.  It’s kind of an art to interact with clients while trying to photograph them naturally.  It’s a fine balance that I truly pray about before I ever start a session.

Anyways, I spoke with the friend for a bit and she had mentioned she was on a weight loss journey. Isn’t it impressive when someone actually wants to change a part of themselves for the better.  I LOVE meeting people like this.  I always feel like I am trying to change something (although that’s another entry.)

 

This woman on the weight loss journey had booked a future session.  The session was to celebrate her journey.  Celebrate the fact that she had not taken pictures for 10 years and avoided cameras at all cost’s.  This session was to mark the incredible determination and decision to no longer be the woman that was bringing her down.  I couldn’t wait to be apart of this celebration!

Fast forward to yesterday.  She stepped out of the car and I did not recognize her.  She had lost the 95lb and was rocking her new self.  It’s amazing to me, the mind.  That when you decide to do something, if you really want it, you can get it done.  It was truly inspiring to hear about her journey, to hear about her new realizations, and how people treat her.

We had an amazing session and even had a celebratory cocktail at a local restaurant!  Cheers to the new you Stephanie!  Give this girl some LOVE!

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Southern Luxe Home awesome Owner and Shop

I have always loved Pottery Barn.  Since I was a kid I can remember browsing the catalog and being so envious of the person who was able to design the room.  Paying close attention to detail in how they placed certain items.  It is always so intriguing to me how they think of placing product to sell.  It truly is an ART in itself.  A couple of months back I had the opportunity to photograph product from a company called Southern Luxe Home.  And work with  someone who had this exact eye for detail, design and quality!  Southern luxe offers such high quality unique products and pays  close attention to detail.  The owner Katie Metz has an eye for luxury and quality.  The products she selects and sells through her website  Shop Southern Luxe  is simply beautiful and elegant.  And I might say different.  Not things you see everyday but wish you did!  If you are looking for something specific, high quality and classy Southern Luxe Home is the perfect online shop.  I feel honored to have photographed this product and look forward to new things she selects to sell. Below you will find some of her selections, be sure to check out this shop today!

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Back to me

When I first started dating my husband long distance I bought Bryan Adams album “Back to me”.  This album would accompany me on many a runs as I fantasized a life of marriage and children. I would imagine waking up to this man every day and having a friendship that would last a lifetime.  We would never argue, I would always say the perfect thing in times of difficulty. We would have children and they would be dressed well at all times and never talk back.  Funny, when you think about it!    Now that I am married with children I find myself fantasizing about when I was single.  Not that I want to go back to that life of being single, but more so being who I once was.  A girl who put GOD first no matter what, who had plenty of time to study and pray, plenty of time to exercise and to eat right.  The bottom line is when you are single you have time.  And when you are married with children you have time BUT prioritizing and making time to do the things you once could becomes an ART!  I miss time.  I do not miss being single.

My eldest is 3 tomorrow and my youngest is 10 months and for the first time in a while I finally feel like I’m getting back to me!  I downloaded the album once again “back to me” and went for a run this morning.  Granted it was not the 6 miles I used to do with no problem, but it was something and it felt great.  As I was running, I was thinking how great it is to have a loving husband who after 7 years still lights up my face in the morning, and two healthy children.  My life has changed significantly in 7 years, but for the better.  Time is a luxury and when organized correctly can be imperative to your mental health.  I am finding it is vital to take the time.

Watching my little 3 year old dance as I write this I am thankful.  Take the time to enjoy this time, and get don’t for get to get “back to me”.  That’s my two cents for the day.

What is one thing you do to take time for yourself?

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Baby Show success!…..well besides some ugly attitudes.

 

Yesterday, Sunday June 2nd I had the privileged to be apart of the Chicago Baby Fair.  It was a great event with a wonderful turn out.  Lot’s of women with their bumps walking around learning new things that will benefit their family.  It really was nice to see.  There were a lot of seasoned mother’s there too.  It was pleasant to see the Father’s there supporting their significant other, whether it was holding all the bags,  holding the baby or filling out the next raffle entry.
As a vendor you can really learn a lot about people.  You have the opportunity to talk with many people and also observe a lot of people on the down time.  The beauty to Baby shows or any trade show is you really need to be able to learn your client quickly.  It comes down to three actions:  Speak, Listen and pay attention to body language.   You have basically 15 seconds to have your client want to hear more, or leave.   To some degree it is a skill and a  very fun skill to obtain and practice.
During the down time at a show I like to observe the other vendors, it’s hard not to.  This baby show, I was positioned next to two young girls.  After my table was moved 3 times by the coordinator and other vendors I finally was positioned.  At first it seemed like it was going to be a really great match up.  I say match up because the table you are next to can make or break your day.  The last baby show I did I was positioned next to Eleanore with  Happy Baby Organics.  What an amazing woman.  We would laugh, share stories and comment about the show and when someone would approach either table we would break from the conversation and speak with the future client.  There was an understanding there a peace and friendliness.  This was not the case yesterday.  And although they were very friendly there true colors showed.  I suppose it is hard to hide true colors when your next to someone for 8 hours.  By the end of the day I had their agenda down.  I new that if something was in their mind that was unkind or maybe just beneath them, they would share this observation with each other  hide their face behind their hair and laugh.  I knew their approach to clients was not one of kindness but one of the “get” mentality.  Sometimes you just can’t mask an ugly attitude.
So if you plan on attending a Baby fair here are 10 tips that you can look for to make sure the vendor you are choosing is going to give their all and offer a great service. And more importantly care about what YOU want and NEED.
Follow Eleanore on Twitter she offers amazing deals!
1. Are they smiling?  Not when they are talking to someone.  But when no one is around?
2. Are they content?  Or are they checking their phone?
3. Are they standing and ready to answer questions or sitting staring out into space?
4. When you speak to them are they willing to listen or just fill you with so much info that you end up checking out after ” and, also…..”
5. What about how they treat other vendors? Are they friendly or just keeping to themselves?
6. If you are at the table do they acknowledge you or do you need to make the first comment?
7. Are they friendly?
8.  Did you fee comfortable or rushed?  Strangely, if you feel comfortable with them, this means that they are doing their job!
9.  Most importantly.  Are they approachable?
10.  And last but not least.  When you leave the vendor table, walk 5 steps and look back.  You will be able to read on their face or their body language how they felt about you.  Try it!  It works!
If you are looking for some great items to feed your baby that are healthy, convenient and smart contact Eleanore by following her on twitter!
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